November 27, 2005

Breakfasts in Tokyo

Posted in travel at 4:03 pm by riseyp

The night I arrived in Tokyo, I went out to the Okonomiyaki restaurant across the street with Ryan and Susan. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere was fabulous: lots of hip young things drinking beer and sake and cooking their own meal, all around us. I felt like I was in the Japanese equivalent of the Lower Haight (the bleeding-edge ‘hood I live in, in San Francisco).


Susan, putting up with having her photo taken (But not for long…)


Ryan’s hand, making the stir fried vegies we got.
We found out much later that the ginger goes in last.
We put ours in way too soon and it ended up getting all burned and inedible…

But anyway, I digress. This post is about breakfast.

While we were at dinner, I asked “the kids” (J’s name for them, which I quickly adopted) how the breakfast at our ryokan tasted, as J & I were going to have it for the first time the following morning. (R&S were staying in the same ryokan we were, and had gotten there two days earlier, while J & I were visiting my brother in Seoul)

They told me they didn’t like the breakfast much at all, that it was overpriced and weird. Stuff like fish and soup and this bizarre jelly-like molded meat thing. So after the first morning, they’d begun to branch out and eat at other places in the area, like Denny’s, which they swore was much better than Denny’s at home. Hmmm.

Their reviews convinced me that I would actually probably like the ryokan’s breakfast (having gotten used to jelly-like meat molds at Vietnamese restaurants and really starting to dig them). So when Jason & I woke up the following morning, we got dressed up in our yukata (the robes provided in our room) with the green housecoat thing on top…

…and took the elevator downstairs. After a bit of manhandling of the automatic door leading into the ryokan’s restaurant (derrrr, Risey, press the “Open” button!!) we sat down and were served the various bits and pieces comprising a traditional (big) Japanese breakfast.

Of course, each thing was served in its own ceramic container. Little tiny plates and bowls for everything, perfectly designed. Some roasted nori in a rectangular, covered dish. Miso soup. Rice. Pickled vegetables. A small piece of cold roast fish. A side of soy sauce. Slices of sweet tamago (omelette).

I don’t know why, but I loved it all. Simple but delicious. Food that makes you savor each bite. Definitely worth the 1,300 yen per person.

Although I must admit, by the end of the week, we couldn’t get ourselves out of bed early enough to get to breakfast on time, and so we did end up trying Denny’s with the kids. It was actually surprisingly good. They served mostly Japanese food, along with very Japanese versions of traditional American breakfasts, and it was all really tasty. Funniest of all, the disposable chopsticks they gave you were the best we got in Japan. Instead of having to break them apart, they came pre-separated, and they were made of a much nicer, beautifully-grained wood. Strange.

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